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by Shawn Stone on May 30, 2013

Fast & Furious 6
Directed by Justin Lin

 

Bigger, faster, harder, louder: Those are the goals of any action blockbuster, and especially one with a number after the title. Fast & Furious 6 lives up to this mantra, with faster cars, bigger explosions and more outlandish situations.

For example, when Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and crew face off on a Spanish highway with their nemesis, the Bond-style villain (Luke Evans) is driving an enormous, car-crushing tank. And said villain is accompanied by Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Dom’s one-time love interest who seemingly died two films ago and is now one of the bad guys.

Rodriguez in FAST & FURIOUS 6

Last time the main setting was Brazil, and the feel was gritty; this time Dom and company (Paul Walker’s ex-cop, Tyrese Gibson’s smartass, Ludacris’ computer-gearhead genius, and Gal Gadot and Sung Kang as the “cute couple” of the car-crazed crew) are in London. The emphasis here is on surveillance and its discontents, as a couple of American supercops (Dwayne Johnson and Gina Carano) use the crew to get to an international terrorist who’s after a super weapon.

Don’t worry about the details: It’s a fast-paced, explosion-ridden soap opera on wheels. And it’s a lot more fun than it should be.

The return of action queen Rodriguez gives the series a big boost. When her amnesiac Letty squares off against Dom in a street race, it’s as much foreplay as competition. And her fight with ex-MMA star Carano in the London Underground is wonderfully brutal. You may recall that Rodriguez’ character in the Resident Evil series returned from the dead a couple of times, too; she’s too cool to kill.

There’s one odd sidetrack: Walker’s ex-cop is featured in an elaborate subplot where he sneaks back into the States and gets himself locked up with a druglord to get information. Since the info is obvious and not very useful, the whole sequence seems more related to fulfilling the terms of the actor’s contract than advancing the story.

It’s a small complaint, however. Fast & Furious 6 is a supercharged thrill-delivery device with an otherwise resolutely straightforward narrative pointed to one goal: enticing moviegoers back in July 2014 for the next Furious installment.

There’s a coda, of course, in which the filmmakers introduce the next film’s villain. They even set up the villain’s motive, which they are cheerfully (and shamelessly) borrowing from Die Hard With a Vengeance. This franchise is definitely all business.